Hawaii Duck Tours was not ready for Coast Guard safety inspections Tuesday, nearly two weeks after a flash fire on one of the company’s amphibious vehicles seriously injured an employee and grounded the company’s fleet.
According to Cmdr. Jason Neubauer, chief of prevention with Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, Hawaii Duck Tours must complete extensive engineering repairs on its vehicles before the company can take to Oahu’s streets — and surf — again. Neubauer said the Coast Guard would not allow the company to resume tours until the repairs — which he characterized as “serious” — are completed, and did not know how long the overhaul would take.
“We’re still working with them,” Neubauer said. “They would need to make those repairs, and we would return for verification.”
On July 6 a company employee suffered second- degree burns while working on a vessel in the Duck Tour warehouse in Kakaako. Honolulu Fire spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said a joint investigation between the Fire Department and the Coast Guard concluded that the fire started when sparks from the ship’s electrical system ignited vapors from a fuel leak.
Hawaii Duck Tours runs two vessels that can operate on land and water. The vehicles are modified Army and Marine Corps surplus trucks manufactured during World War II, making them more than 60 years old.
The vessels were thrust into the spotlight this month with two major accidents involving the boats on wheels.
On July 8 a duck boat out of Philadelphia sank after it was struck by a barge on the Delaware River, killing two Hungarian tourists.
Less than a week later on July 13, a duck boat in Boston was involved in a traffic collision. None of the boat’s 29 passengers were injured.
Owners of Hawaii Duck Tours could not be reached for comment.
Correction: Hawaii Duck Tours was not ready for safety inspections of company vessels last Tuesday so the boats remain grounded,according to Coast Guard officials. A headline and story on Page A20 Friday said the boats failed inspections.